Posted by & filed under Inner West Independent.

Marrickville Greens councillors are upset after Council voted to remove a large tree in Stanmore because of fears its roots are damaging a nearby house.

The lemon-scented gum tree in Cambridge Street has been blamed for exacerbating structural damage to the house, and the Greens were unsuccessful in a motion to grant a stay of execution.

Greens Councillor Cathy Peters said a structural engineer’s report showed that although the tree could be causing some damage, the main culprit was probably movement of clay soils under the house drying out and shifting, during an extended period of drier-than-normal conditions.

Cr Peters added that a number of other houses on surrounding streets featured similar cracks, even though many do not have trees in front of them.

“All I was asking for… was a three-month period of grace where we looked at some methods of amelioration, such as providing moisture into the soil around the house,” she said.

“While I’m not advocating protecting trees if properties are being damaged irreversibly, I am certainly looking at every option to save the tree.”

Marrickville Labor Mayor Sam Iskandar said he was convinced the tree needed to be removed, as a result of reports compiled by Council officers over the past six months.

He said that although he would have liked to save the tree, the happiness of members of the community was more important and that other trees could always be planted elsewhere. “We put human beings first,” he said.

Marrickville’s streets feature a number of similar large trees on pavements. Cr Iskandar said he was not aware of any other trees causing damage. He added, however, that as a general rule, “we will keep any tree which can be kept, and I’ll be very happy to remove any tree which will cause damage and pain for the community.”

Cr Peters said that every case for removal of trees is dealt with as an individual claim. “I’d be horrified to see a rash of claims for removal of large trees on pavements,” she said.

The exact time frame for removal of the tree is as-yet unclear.

by Aaron Cook